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UN, peace monitors ask South Sudan to respect freedom of press

The United Nations and peace monitors have asked the South Sudan government to respect press freedom and free speech.

Speaking Friday at an event in the capital Juba to mark World Press Freedom Day, Annie Rashidi, the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) human rights officer said the media plays an important role in the society and that conducive environment for practitioners should be guaranteed.

“There is no society without press…UNMISS is committed to work with media, and journalists to ensure press freedom in South Sudan”, said Ms Rashidi.

Journalists who spoke at the function said that it was a day to remind government officials to respect media freedom and protect the fourth estate.

The event was supported by Revitalized Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (R-JMEC) and Unesco.

Jallow Saidou Sireh, Unesco representative in the country said “it is essential we guarantee freedom of speech and of the press in South Sudan.”

“Impunity for crimes against journalists is a threat against all societies. Independent journalism vied opportunity to present facts,” added Saidou.

R-JMEC deputy chairperson Dr Thomson Fontaine said free press was crucial in the peace process in the young nation.

This year’s World Press Freedom Day theme is ‘journalism & elections in times of disinformation’.

South Sudan reporters are often the target of government officials, especially when highlighting human rights violations and abuse of power.

Dozens of the journalists have been killed in line of duty while several others have fled into exile fearing for their lives.

Several media outlets have also been shut down by the government for critical coverage of the country’s affairs.

By The Eastafrican

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